Photos of F-35, F-16, A-10, F-15E jets launching from Nellis Air Force Base

Nellis AFB near Las Vegas, is one of the airbases where you can see F-35 Joint Strike Fighters fly.

Nellis AFB, Nevada, is one of the most interesting and busiest airbases in the US. Even outside the Green/Red Flag periods.

Among the several units hosted by the airbase near Las Vegas, there is the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, whose aim is to develop and test new tactics to employ weapons systems in combat.

F-16 422 TES

The unit operates a fleet of A/OA-10, F-15C, F-15E, F-16CM, F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

A-10 take off 03L

Dealing with the Joint Strike Fighter, the 422nd TES is involved in development evaluation and supports the initial operational test to determine how to integrate the F-35 with other assets in the U.S. Air Force inventory.

F-35 take off

F-35 turn and burn

F-35 noise abatement

The images in this post were taken at Nellis AFB in the morning on Jan. 12. They show some of the flying activity on an ordinary day at Nellis, including F-35s, F-16 Vipers and F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 422nd TES (with tail code “OT”) taking off for missions inside the NTTR (Nevada Test & Training Range), as well as the Thunderbirds demo team performing their daily training sortie.

F-35 number 2 belly view

The 422nd TES works closely with the USAF Weapons School, also headquartered at Nellis.

The School’s mission is to teach graduate-level instructor courses, which provide advanced training in weapons and tactics employment to officers of the combat air forces.

The unit has received the first F-35, sporting the typical “WA” tail code, on Jan. 15.

A-10 takeoff

F-15E 422 TES

Thunderbirds practice


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. So many shapes under the wing of the F-35. I’m assuming these are some of the F-35’s distributed and integrated sensors?

    • Pylon attachment points, probably have some sort of special covering to obscure the holes and nubs from prying radar “eyes” when not in use.

  2. I’ll have to admit, the F35 is one gorgeous airplane. Look at that belly.. like a work of art.

    • Ya, planes like the F-16, Mig-29, Su-27 and F/A-18 are looking pretty ancient compared to this beauty.

  3. I know it is easy to hate the F-35 as a program because of the Nitwits in charge at L M who just want to make money- but if you look at the headline photo of the F-35 and then the next photo down of the F-16, essentially they are carrying the same load in A2A weapons and fuel, with maybe more sensors on the F-35 (I’m not saying it defo is loaded in the photo and the sensors are fully working yet) but that makes me appreciate how special the F-35 could be. More fuel on board, less drag from no droptanks, same weapons on board but safety stowed away, no drag and less signature. No sniper pod- less drag. Yes at the moment with software and program restrictions, the Viper maybe be able to out manoeuvre the F-35 on high G close quarter stuff, but if the Viper driver was eliminated before he saw the F-35, what good is that, and when the software is fully written and the aircraft can pull 9G, I’d rather have no external weapons, a helmet that allows me to look through my airframe and that bit of extra stealth that might keep me hidden. Also the F-35 is really quite sexy, in a this is the future kindaway.

    • Agreed. The F-22 is that super hot sexy model/actress/singer that everyone wants to get with. The F-35 is that cute nerdy redhead girl that looks good enough but if she put some make up on and did her hair she’d be even better.

    • It’ s not about the software it’s the platform…pitiful acceleration, max sustained g turn, max turn rate…it’s all written in the public development reports

      • I was lead to believe that most of the things you state as limited were software limitations- and most will be rectified ( on ‘a’ model in particular) with bloke 3f software around 2019…but imagine this (when everything is running correctly which it will do eventually.) I can turn my head- look through my fuselage- oh there you are, my 360 degree radar, IR, and video synced systems can see you mister massive su-27/30/etc Lock on missile, even though you are off to my rear, Whammy…. Get the idea? We all compare this to legacy jets- and perhaps we should not, that is what I’m saying. Think 3d all around the aircraft not 2d out of your HUD.

        • totally agree – the f35 will be a beast, probably ion more ways than we know.

          its true, expectations were very high and its run into a lot of problems, but in the end it will be worth it…. and much needed!

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